Governor Lee Signs Bill into Law that Prohibits Outside Funding to Elections Without Legislative Speakers’ Consent

A new Tennessee law makes outside funding to state and local election officials an exception to the rule. Governor Bill Lee signed the bill into law last week – it ensures that select elected officials review all outside funding, if any. It would also enable the public to access information on those outside funds through open records. 

This law will apply to both the state and county-level election commissions, the secretary of state, county administrators of elections, and the coordinator of elections. Only combined approval from the state House and Senate speakers would enable state election officials to accept funding from private individuals, corporations, organizations, or political parties. As for county election commissions and administrators of elections, outside funding must be approved by the secretary of state or one of their designees. 

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Commentary: Bernie Sanders Proves He’s Nothing More Than an Establishment Mouthpiece

Bernie Sanders

Remember Bernie Sanders? You know, the goofy socialist who nearly became the Democratic nominee in 2016 and 2020. In both presidential races, his supporters touted him as a threat to the system. His campaign was a “revolution” and, if he became president, he was going to bring down the warmongering, plutocratic establishment.

Bernie has since proved these claims very wrong.

Last week, he tweeted in support of Liz Cheney, the very embodiment of the warmongering plutocratic establishment.

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Republican Businessman Launches Congressional Bid Against Cooper

Quincy McKnight, a Nashville businessman, formally entered the race against Democratic Representative Jim Cooper for Tennessee’s fifth Congressional District. 

McKnight is the CEO of Covenant Pay Partners, a payment processing company. He grew up in Murfreesboro and attended Middle Tennessee State University.

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Former Tellico Plains Elementary PTO Treasurer Stole Nearly $23,000, Tennessee Comptroller Reveals

Authorities have indicted a former Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) treasurer after Tennessee Comptrollers said she stole nearly $23,000. That former treasurer, Jennifer Letner, served at Tellico Plains Elementary School, according to a press release that Tennessee Comptrollers published this week.

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Theoretical Physicist and Author of Unsettled, NYU Professor Steven E. Koonin Discusses What Science Tells Us

Friday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed author, NYU professor, and former Obama administrator under the Secretary of Science, Professor Steven E. Koonin to the newsmakers line to weigh in on climate science and renewable energy.

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Crom Carmichael Talks Biden’s Villainous Priorities, Cronyism, and Critical Race Theory

Friday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael in studio to weigh in on Biden’s cronyism and priorities that do not favor middle-class Americans.

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Not One State Reported a Sizable Increase in Coronavirus Cases Last Week

Sick person talking to CDC employee

For the first time in months, not one state reported a dramatic weekly increase in coronavirus cases.

While average daily cases fell by less than 10% in 11 states, 37 states saw cases fall by over 10% and just two states had cases marginally increase, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The United States also averaged fewer than 40,000 daily cases last week, a 21% drop from the week prior and the lowest total since September.

Death and hospitalization rates have also plummeted nationwide. The U.S. has averaged 600 deaths per day, the lowest point in approximately 10 months. If the number continues to fall the nation could soon hit its lowest point of the entire pandemic, according to the Associated Press.

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Lawmakers Reach Deal on Bipartisan 9/11-Style Commission to Investigate Capitol Riot

The two top lawmakers on the House Homeland Security Committee reached an agreement Friday on legislation that would create a bipartisan, 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

The bill, authored by Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson and New York Republican Rep. John Katko, is focused exclusively on the attack and not other episodes of political violence as multiple Republicans earlier insisted. Though it has the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it is unclear whether Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other members of his caucus support it.

“I haven’t read through it,” McCarthy told reporters when asked about the bill Friday morning.

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Jobless Claims Hit New Pandemic Low, Drop to 473,000

Photo “Unemployment Insurance Claims Office” by Bytemarks. CC BY 2.0.

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims dropped to 473,000 last week as the economy continues to slowly recover from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics figure released Thursday represented a decrease in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending May 1, when 507,000 new jobless claims were reported. That number was revised up from the 498,000 jobless claims initially reported last week.

Economists expected Thursday’s jobless claims number to come in at 500,000, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Over $50K Raised for Children’s Charities at Murfreesboro Boxing Event, Featuring Lineup of Fitness Celebrities

A Murfreesboro, Tennessee boxing event featuring nearly a dozen fitness celebrities, “Rumble in the Boro,” raised over $50,000 for children’s charities last weekend. 100 percent of the profits will be distributed to four charities that benefit children: Legacy of Valor Endowment, Shepherd, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and WithLove.

Marc Lobliner, MTS Nutrition CEO and famed fitness influencer, created and hosted the event. In an interview with The Tennessee Star, Lobliner shared that each of the charities featured would receive well over $10,000. He added that they were still collecting money from an auction and companies submitting checks.

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Attorney Jim Roberts Explains Metro Legal and Nashville Business Coalition’s Continued Efforts of Voter Suppression

Friday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed attorney Jim Roberts of 4goodgovernment.com to the newsmakers with the good news of Davidson County Election Commission’s vote to put the referendum on the July ballot.

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Texas Bill Will Ban Abortions After an Unborn Baby’s Heartbeat Can Be Detected

Close up of baby feet lying in bed

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott indicated Thursday that he will sign a heartbeat abortion bill banning abortions after the unborn baby has reached six weeks gestation.

Texas’ Heartbeat Act passed the state’s Senate Thursday. Abbott highlighted the bill’s passage in a tweet that noted the bill was “on its way to my desk for signing.” The governor also thanked Republican state lawmakers Bryan Hughes and Shelby Slawson for their leadership in introducing the legislation.

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Tennessee’s Revenues in April Push Budget Surplus to over $2 Billion with Three Months Remaining in the Fiscal Year

Higher than expected revenues for the month of April resulted in the state’s budget surplus exceeding $2 billion with three months remaining in the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

Commissioner of Tennessee’s Department of Finance and Administration Butch Eley made the announcement Friday that April revenues of $2.5 billion resulted in a $596.7 million surplus for the month of April 2021.

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Steve Bannon Presents ‘War Room: Pandemic’

An all new LIVE STREAM of War Room: Pandemic starts at 9 a.m. Central Time on Saturday.

Former White House Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon began the daily War Room: Pandemic radio show and podcast on January 25, when news of the virus was just beginning to leak out of China around the Lunar New Year. Bannon and co-hosts bring listeners exclusive analysis and breaking updates from top medical, public health, economic, national security, supply chain and geopolitical experts weekdays from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon ET.

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‘Too Risky’: Progressives Are Upset CDC Lifted Mask Mandate

mask in persons hand

Progressives voiced their dismay following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated guidance that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors.

Progressives and medical experts immediately criticized the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mask guidelines, arguing that the alteration was extreme and would be harmful to certain parts of the population. Others said the new guidance is confusing and disincentivizes people to get vaccinated.

“The CDC has done an about-face that’s shockingly abrupt: it’s confusing & could actually disincentivize vaccines,” Dr. Leana Wen, a George Washington University public health professor, tweeted after the announcement Thursday.

“Yes, vaccinated people are well-protected and not a threat to others,” she said in a later tweet. “But do we trust that the honor system—won’t unvaccinated people pretend to be vaccinated & stop wearing masks?”

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Commentary: Celebrating Our Heroes on Armed Forces Day

Close-up of military helmets

Every third Saturday in May, America comes together to celebrate Armed Forces Day in honor of the brave men and women who serve in the U.S. military.

May 15, 2021 is the 71st anniversary of the establishment of Armed Forces Day.  This commemorative holiday was established by President Harry Truman in 1950 following the passage of the National Security Act in 1947. 

At the end of World War II and the onset of the Cold War, the United States Congress and the Truman administration recognized that an overhaul of our national security, intelligence, and defense apparatuses were needed for America to defeat the expanding threat of communism.  The National Security Act established the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, and the Department of the Air Force.  It also unified and restructured the U.S. military by moving the War Department, Navy Department, and Air Force under the direction of the new Department of Defense.  

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Whitmer Ends Statewide Mask Mandate for Fully Vaccinated Starting Saturday

group of people wearing masks

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday announced the state health department will align its policy with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance on face coverings starting Saturday at 9 a.m.

“For more than a year, we’ve been following the best data and science to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” Whitmer said in a statement. “The vast majority of us have trusted the scientists and experts to keep us safe during the pandemic, and it has worked. With millions of Michiganders fully vaccinated, we can now safely and confidently take the next step to get back to normal. The message is clear: vaccines work to protect you and your loved ones. If you have not yet received your vaccine, now is the time to sign up. This pandemic has been one of the toughest challenges of our lifetimes, but we came together as a state to persevere. We have all been working incredibly hard toward getting back to some sense of normalcy, and today’s news makes all of that work worthwhile.”

On Thursday, the CDC released updated guidance recommending “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

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Despite COVID-19, New Report Credits Georgia Policies for Improved Economic Outlook Ranking

Cutting taxes, paying down debt and maintaining free market policies this past year helped Georgia and other states improve their rankings for economic competitiveness, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. An Arlington, Virginia-based organization this week released a report that praised Georgia, among other states, for its economic policies. Members of that group, The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) published the report, which they titled Rich States, Poor States. This is the report’s 14th edition.

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Atlanta Republican Fed up with GOP Establishment Says ‘The Old Guard is Cornered’

One Atlanta conservative unsettled by the behavior of the Fulton County Republican leadership at their party’s convention last month said too many members of the old GOP establishment resist change — and put the party in peril. Rob Cunningham told The Georgia Star News this week that “the call to get engaged [among the grassroots] is being heeded.”

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DeSantis Leads Fundraising Effort by Wide Margin

Ron DeSantis

Governor Ron DeSantis’ political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, in 2021, has raised over $23 million, and nearly $14 million of the total was raised during April alone. During April, the campaign received primarily two large sums of money, one was for over $5 million from Chicago-based hedge funder Kenneth Griffin, and the other was a $2.8 million donation from the Republican Governors’ Association. Griffin was one of DeSantis’ primary contributors to his 2018 gubernatorial run.

DeSantis has not formally filed the paperwork to run for reelection in 2022, but the account is ramping up donations, indicating a DeSantis campaign is likely imminent.

Over 30 contributions came in totaling over $50,000, 139 contributions over $25,000, and 86 contributions of $100 to $500.

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DeSantis Interview Raises More Presidential Rumors

Earlier this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was the featured guest in a town hall discussion entitled “Leading to Liberty” for Sean Spicer’s program Spicer & Co. on Newsmax. In the hour-long interview, DeSantis fielded questions from Spicer and the audience ranging in topics from Florida’s COVID response, illegal immigration, and education.

Political pundits who watched the interview said it felt more like an informercial for a possible 2024 presidential run, but others said he made his case for reelection in 2022.

DeSantis was on the offensive at times throughout the night, criticizing President Joe Biden’s first few months in the White House, but also theorizing where Florida would be right now if he had not been elected in 2018.

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Michigan House Committee Votes to Ban Vaccine Passports

Passport with COVID Vaccination sheet

The state House Oversight Committee voted Thursday in favor of a bill that would ban vaccine passports, which will now head to the floor of the House for debate. 

House Bill 4667 prohibits “governmental entity from producing, issuing, or providing an incentive for [COVID-19 vaccination passport] under certain circumstances.”

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Fully-Vaccinated Virginians No Longer Need Masks in Most Settings

Fully-vaccinated Virginians no longer need to wear masks in most places, including indoors. On Friday, Governor Ralph Northam updated his mask mandate, effective Saturday, to align with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance released Thursday.

“Virginians have been working hard, and we are seeing the results in our strong vaccine numbers and dramatically lowered case counts,” Northam said in his announcement.

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Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe Makes Transition from Primary to General Election

With three weeks to go before the Democratic Party primary on June 8th, former Virginia Governor and Clinton confidante Terry McAuliffe transitioned his campaign to the general election with a series of social media posts attacking Republican gubernatorial nominee, Glenn Youngkin.

On the heels of the Youngkin announcement, McAuilffe blasted his Republican opponent by tweeting, “Let me introduce you to Glenn Youngkin: Glenn’s a Ted Cruz and Corey Stewart-endorsed, self-funding, Big Lie believing Trump loyalist who’ll stop at nothing to advance the GOP’s extreme agenda.

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The Colonial Pipeline Attack Could Lead to Real Change in Cybersecurity Policy

Hackers infiltrated the Colonial Pipeline’s systems, held its data hostage for a $5 million ransom, and in the process, triggered local gas shortages across the eastern U.S. In response, politicians began talking about needed reform to protect critical infrastructure. Cybersecurity experts say talk is common around such initiatives, but because of the recent attack’s impact on the everyday lives of Americans, legislators may finally be ready to make real changes.

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Over 200 Officers Have Left the Minneapolis Police Department Since Last May

Over 200 police officers have left, are in the process of leaving, or are on extended leave from the Minneapolis Police Department. 

Several police officers explained it is due to lack of support and the feeling that they had to defend themselves throughout the course of the riots that plagued the city last summer, according to a report from WCCO in Minneapolis. 

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The Colonial Pipeline Is Back Online

After five days that saw Virginia’s gasoline availability plummet, the Colonial Pipeline is fully-operational as of Thursday evening. But the company says not to expect supplies to return to normal immediately.

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Report: Feds Expect Plea Deal from Matt Gaetz ‘Wingman’ in Sex Trafficking Case

Joel Greenberg

Citing “multiple people familiar with the situation,” POLITICO reported that Joel Greenberg, a close associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL-01), will plead guilty in an Orlando federal court Monday to charges related to the sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl, in exchange for a lenient sentence. 

Greenberg, a friend of Gaetz whom the congressman described as his “wingman,” could provide evidence to federal investigators in a separate case against Gaetz, according to the report. 

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Walz Drops Mask Mandate Following CDC Guidance

Gov. Tim Walz

Minnesota’s mask mandate will come to an end Friday, a maskless Gov. Tim Walz announced at a Thursday night press conference.

The polarizing mandate has been in place since July 25. Walz said last week that he would lift the mandate on July 1 or when 70% of the eligible population received a vaccine — whichever came first.

But a new guidance released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

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Metro Nashville Health Officials Silent on Reason for Sudden Reversal of Decision to Continue Mask Mandate, Just Hours After Pledging to Uphold It

According to the Metro Public Health Department (MPHD), Nashville’s mask mandate was supposed to continue despite the latest CDC recommendation. However, health officials quickly reversed their decision within hours, and without offering a detailed explanation. As The Tennessee Star reported Friday, the mask mandate ended on Friday morning at 5 a.m. CST. The Metro Public Health Department (MPHD) shared that the decision was made by certain Metro health officials, who convened after Thursday’s board of health meeting.

MPHD said in a press release that certain Metro health officials met after the Metro Board of Health meeting Thursday to further review the CDC recommendations. It is unclear what further information caused them to change their minds. In response to inquiries from The Star, the MPHD spokesperson shared the same MPHD press release. He said that there weren’t any other reasons for the reversal beyond what’s been shared publicly.

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